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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A common man's point of view., November 7, 2008
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This review is from: Tchaikovsky, Petipa - Swan Lake / Kirov Ballet, Yulia Makhalina, Igor Zelensky (DVD)
This is one of my favorite Swan Lakes. Yulia Makhalina is one of the most beautiful ballerinas I have ever seen. She is also as technically accomplished as any ballerina I've seen. Now, I do not know anything at all about the techniques of ballet, but I do know beauty when I see it. Partnered with Yulia is Igor Zelensky, a very strong and magnetic male dancer. In the first act, one of the female friends dancing with the Prince is Larissa Lezhnina who stars as Aurora in the Kirov version of Sleeping beauty with Yulia Makhalina as The Lilac Fairy. Tchaikovsky - The Sleeping Beauty / Kirov Ballet Larissa also stars in a Kirov version of The Nutcracker. Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker

This ballet is performed from the stage of the Kirov Theater in St. Petersburg, (once Leningrad). The opulence in that building is spectacular, and you can see part of it on the video "Bringing Balanchine Back" by the NYCB.......New York City Ballet: Bringing Balanchine Back....... The theater had no audience and there was no sign of a live orchestra, although it had very good stereo sound. I doubt if it was a live orchestra because there was no sound of ballet shoes on the stage. Costuming and sets were spectacular. As usual for a Russian performance of Swan Lake it has the so called happy ending, but the Russians should wake up to the fact that the sad ending is better, which is how Petipa and Tchaikovsky designed it to end. The emotion is there in the music for the sacrificial ending, and after all that is a happy ending, for how could there be a more romantic ending than a love living forever in paradise?

Typical of Russian ballets, there is very little if any mime used in this production. I like to see mime used in ballet. I believe it was the Russians who invented it, yet now they use it the least. It is a beautiful art form in itself. The arm and hand motions go very well with all the movements of dance. See the American Ballet Theatre for excellent examples of mime in Swan Lake. Tchaikovsky - Swan Lake / American Ballet Theatre, Murphy, Corella It was the ABT who showed in mime that the lake the swans inhabit was formed by their tears.

This ballet has a running time of 115 minutes which is about right for most Swan Lakes. Some of them run as much as 135 minutes, however. The video format is 4:3 ratio. If you are looking for a good version of Swan Lake, I believe you will like this one.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 2, 2011 9:28:58 AM PST
wvc says:
I have to admit I'm a little confused. In many of your Swan Lake reviews you comment that you prefer the happy ending, with a bold prince saving his swan princess. But in this review you say that the happy ending doesn't work. I appreciate your reviews, because I've been trying to pick out a version of Swan Lake to buy, and it's nice to have someone consistently look at all of the available productions, but I didn't understand this inconsistency.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 2, 2011 4:21:17 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 2, 2011 4:52:44 PM PST
I don't know what I said to make you think I prefered the happy ending. Actually I think the sacrificial ending is better because Tchaikovsky's music is there to put you into a frame of mind that something tragic is about to happen, and that is the death of our doomed Swan Queen and her savior Siegfried. Actually, Tchaikovsky and the Choreographer Marius Petipa, designed the Ballet to have a tragic ending, but (I think) the Tzar in power at that time did not like the tragic ending, and insisted on a change that showed a happier ending. You notice though, dont you, that the tragic MUSIC is still there. This ballet w/Julia Makhalina is a very good Russian version of Swan Lake with the so called happy ending. All the Russian Swan Lakes end that way. Since this is filmed on stage with an empty auditorium, I sometimes play this disc just to listen to the music (very well performed under the direction of Fedotov) because there is no audience applause to interupt the music. My personal favorite version of Swan Lake is the American Ballet Theatre version starring Gillian Murphy and Angle Correla, even though the last act has been edited to only 10 minutes, and shows a very tragic ending with both hero and heroine sacrificing themselves to end Rothbarts curse..... Tchaikovsky - Swan Lake / American Ballet Theatre, Murphy, Corella

I want to say thank you for commenting on this review, and that you read my reviews. (I hope you vote on the reviews).

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 5, 2011 9:53:30 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 5, 2011 9:59:23 PM PST
TML says:
Russians love, love sad endings. I wonder why it's different for Swan Lake. As to ATB vs. this version... As much as I like ATB version, I think Makhalina is a much better swan. It's fascinating to watch her. Siegfried is good in both. However, ATB is more theatrical.

The history of Swan Lake is not straightforward. From what I can gather, both the music and the plot underwent many changes.
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